Last week, we reviewed the many physical and mental benefits of longer runs for runners engaged in marathon training. As if running 15-20 miles in a row weren’t enough of a challenge, many busy runners find that just scheduling the blocks of time for their longer runs (and sticking to that schedule) is a monumental feat.
If you’re finding that your hectic life makes it tough to get 2 or 3 hour open blocks of time, you might want to consider adding doubles (“two-a-days”) into your training plan. Double days give you the benefit of breaking up mileage and being easier on your body, which should help keep your legs feeling fresh. This is a great way to avoid a mid season burnout with the goal race so far out and motivation low. Singles, in addition to requiring bigger chunks of time, are harder on your body. On the other hand, they give you a longer period of time to recover in between.
Some sources suggest that after about eight miles, each additional mile has an increasing aerobic benefit, meaning that a longer single run of say, 15 miles, could help you achieve greater aerobic conditioning than breaking up the run into two 10 and five mile blocks. But other coaches will tell you that the most important thing is just making sure you get in your target mileage each and every week, no matter how you end up putting it together.
There are a lot of opinions out there about the role of doubles and when you should be adding them into your training plan. If you’ve hit a wall in your training, or if you’re just not finding the time to get in all the long runs you need each week, it’s likely worth adding in a few double days gradually to see the results.